Moving from GLFW 2 to 3

Table of Contents

This is a transition guide for moving from GLFW 2 to 3. It describes what has changed or been removed, but does not include new features unless they are required when moving an existing code base onto the new API. For example, the new multi-monitor functions are required to create full screen windows with GLFW 3.

Changed and removed features

Renamed library and header file

The GLFW 3 header is named glfw3.h and moved to the GLFW directory, to avoid collisions with the headers of other major versions. Similarly, the GLFW 3 library is named glfw3, except when it's installed as a shared library on Unix-like systems, where it uses the soname

Old syntax
#include <GL/glfw.h>
New syntax
#include <GLFW/glfw3.h>

Removal of threading functions

The threading functions have been removed, including the per-thread sleep function. They were fairly primitive, under-used, poorly integrated and took time away from the focus of GLFW (i.e. context, input and window). There are better threading libraries available and native threading support is available in both C++11 and C11, both of which are gaining traction.

If you wish to use the C++11 or C11 facilities but your compiler doesn't yet support them, see the TinyThread++ and TinyCThread projects created by the original author of GLFW. These libraries implement a usable subset of the threading APIs in C++11 and C11, and in fact some GLFW 3 test programs use TinyCThread.

However, GLFW 3 has better support for use from multiple threads than GLFW 2 had. Contexts can be made current on any thread, although only a single thread at a time, and the documentation explicitly states which functions may be used from any thread and which must only be used from the main thread.

Removed functions
glfwSleep, glfwCreateThread, glfwDestroyThread, glfwWaitThread, glfwGetThreadID, glfwCreateMutex, glfwDestroyMutex, glfwLockMutex, glfwUnlockMutex, glfwCreateCond, glfwDestroyCond, glfwWaitCond, glfwSignalCond, glfwBroadcastCond and glfwGetNumberOfProcessors.
Removed types

Removal of image and texture loading

The image and texture loading functions have been removed. They only supported the Targa image format, making them mostly useful for beginner level examples. To become of sufficiently high quality to warrant keeping them in GLFW 3, they would need not only to support other formats, but also modern extensions to OpenGL texturing. This would either add a number of external dependencies (libjpeg, libpng, etc.), or force GLFW to ship with inline versions of these libraries.

As there already are libraries doing this, it is unnecessary both to duplicate the work and to tie the duplicate to GLFW. The resulting library would also be platform-independent, as both OpenGL and stdio are available wherever GLFW is.

Removed functions
glfwReadImage, glfwReadMemoryImage, glfwFreeImage, glfwLoadTexture2D, glfwLoadMemoryTexture2D and glfwLoadTextureImage2D.

Removal of GLFWCALL macro

The GLFWCALL macro, which made callback functions use __stdcall on Windows, has been removed. GLFW is written in C, not Pascal. Removing this macro means there's one less thing for application programmers to remember, i.e. the requirement to mark all callback functions with GLFWCALL. It also simplifies the creation of DLLs and DLL link libraries, as there's no need to explicitly disable @n entry point suffixes.

Old syntax
void GLFWCALL callback_function(...);
New syntax
void callback_function(...);

Window handle parameters

Because GLFW 3 supports multiple windows, window handle parameters have been added to all window-related GLFW functions and callbacks. The handle of a newly created window is returned by glfwCreateWindow (formerly glfwOpenWindow). Window handles are pointers to the opaque type GLFWwindow.

Old syntax
glfwSetWindowTitle("New Window Title");
New syntax
glfwSetWindowTitle(window, "New Window Title");

Explicit monitor selection

GLFW 3 provides support for multiple monitors. To request a full screen mode window, instead of passing GLFW_FULLSCREEN you specify which monitor you wish the window to use. The glfwGetPrimaryMonitor function returns the monitor that GLFW 2 would have selected, but there are many other monitor functions. Monitor handles are pointers to the opaque type GLFWmonitor.

Old basic full screen
glfwOpenWindow(640, 480, 8, 8, 8, 0, 24, 0, GLFW_FULLSCREEN);
New basic full screen
window = glfwCreateWindow(640, 480, "My Window", glfwGetPrimaryMonitor(), NULL);
The framebuffer bit depth parameters of glfwOpenWindow have been turned into window hints, but as they have been given sane defaults you rarely need to set these hints.

Removal of automatic event polling

GLFW 3 does not automatically poll for events in glfwSwapBuffers, meaning you need to call glfwPollEvents or glfwWaitEvents yourself. Unlike buffer swap, which acts on a single window, the event processing functions act on all windows at once.

Old basic main loop
while (...)
// Process input
// Render output
New basic main loop
while (...)
// Process input
// Render output

Explicit context management

Each GLFW 3 window has its own OpenGL context and only you, the application programmer, can know which context should be current on which thread at any given time. Therefore, GLFW 3 leaves that decision to you.

This means that you need to call glfwMakeContextCurrent after creating a window before you can call any OpenGL functions.

Separation of window and framebuffer sizes

Window positions and sizes now use screen coordinates, which may not be the same as pixels on machines with high-DPI monitors. This is important as OpenGL uses pixels, not screen coordinates. For example, the rectangle specified with glViewport needs to use pixels. Therefore, framebuffer size functions have been added. You can retrieve the size of the framebuffer of a window with glfwGetFramebufferSize function. A framebuffer size callback has also been added, which can be set with glfwSetFramebufferSizeCallback.

Old basic viewport setup
glfwGetWindowSize(&width, &height);
glViewport(0, 0, width, height);
New basic viewport setup
glfwGetFramebufferSize(window, &width, &height);
glViewport(0, 0, width, height);

Window closing changes

The GLFW_OPENED window parameter has been removed. As long as the window has not been destroyed, whether through glfwDestroyWindow or glfwTerminate, the window is "open".

A user attempting to close a window is now just an event like any other. Unlike GLFW 2, windows and contexts created with GLFW 3 will never be destroyed unless you choose them to be. Each window now has a close flag that is set to GLFW_TRUE when the user attempts to close that window. By default, nothing else happens and the window stays visible. It is then up to you to either destroy the window, take some other action or simply ignore the request.

You can query the close flag at any time with glfwWindowShouldClose and set it at any time with glfwSetWindowShouldClose.

Old basic main loop
while (glfwGetWindowParam(GLFW_OPENED))
New basic main loop
while (!glfwWindowShouldClose(window))

The close callback no longer returns a value. Instead, it is called after the close flag has been set so it can override its value, if it chooses to, before event processing completes. You may however not call glfwDestroyWindow from the close callback (or any other window related callback).

Old syntax
int GLFWCALL window_close_callback(void);
New syntax
void window_close_callback(GLFWwindow* window);
GLFW never clears the close flag to GLFW_FALSE, meaning you can use it for other reasons to close the window as well, for example the user choosing Quit from an in-game menu.

Persistent window hints

The glfwOpenWindowHint function has been renamed to glfwWindowHint.

Window hints are no longer reset to their default values on window creation, but instead retain their values until modified by glfwWindowHint or glfwDefaultWindowHints, or until the library is terminated and re-initialized.

Video mode enumeration

Video mode enumeration is now per-monitor. The glfwGetVideoModes function now returns all available modes for a specific monitor instead of requiring you to guess how large an array you need. The glfwGetDesktopMode function, which had poorly defined behavior, has been replaced by glfwGetVideoMode, which returns the current mode of a monitor.

Removal of character actions

The action parameter of the character callback has been removed. This was an artefact of the origin of GLFW, i.e. being developed in English by a Swede. However, many keyboard layouts require more than one key to produce characters with diacritical marks. Even the Swedish keyboard layout requires this for uncommon cases like ΓΌ.

Old syntax
void GLFWCALL character_callback(int character, int action);
New syntax
void character_callback(GLFWwindow* window, int character);

Cursor position changes

The glfwGetMousePos function has been renamed to glfwGetCursorPos, glfwSetMousePos to glfwSetCursorPos and glfwSetMousePosCallback to glfwSetCursorPosCallback.

The cursor position is now double instead of int, both for the direct functions and for the callback. Some platforms can provide sub-pixel cursor movement and this data is now passed on to the application where available. On platforms where this is not provided, the decimal part is zero.

GLFW 3 only allows you to position the cursor within a window using glfwSetCursorPos (formerly glfwSetMousePos) when that window is active. Unless the window is active, the function fails silently.

Wheel position replaced by scroll offsets

The glfwGetMouseWheel function has been removed. Scrolling is the input of offsets and has no absolute position. The mouse wheel callback has been replaced by a scroll callback that receives two-dimensional floating point scroll offsets. This allows you to receive precise scroll data from for example modern touchpads.

Old syntax
void GLFWCALL mouse_wheel_callback(int position);
New syntax
void scroll_callback(GLFWwindow* window, double xoffset, double yoffset);
Removed functions

Key repeat action

The GLFW_KEY_REPEAT enable has been removed and key repeat is always enabled for both keys and characters. A new key action, GLFW_REPEAT, has been added to allow the key callback to distinguish an initial key press from a repeat. Note that glfwGetKey still returns only GLFW_PRESS or GLFW_RELEASE.

Physical key input

GLFW 3 key tokens map to physical keys, unlike in GLFW 2 where they mapped to the values generated by the current keyboard layout. The tokens are named according to the values they would have using the standard US layout, but this is only a convenience, as most programmers are assumed to know that layout. This means that (for example) GLFW_KEY_LEFT_BRACKET is always a single key and is the same key in the same place regardless of what keyboard layouts the users of your program has.

The key input facility was never meant for text input, although using it that way worked slightly better in GLFW 2. If you were using it to input text, you should be using the character callback instead, on both GLFW 2 and 3. This will give you the characters being input, as opposed to the keys being pressed.

GLFW 3 has key tokens for all keys on a standard 105 key keyboard, so instead of having to remember whether to check for 'a' or 'A', you now check for GLFW_KEY_A.

Joystick function changes

The glfwGetJoystickPos function has been renamed to glfwGetJoystickAxes.

The glfwGetJoystickParam function and the GLFW_PRESENT, GLFW_AXES and GLFW_BUTTONS tokens have been replaced by the glfwJoystickPresent function as well as axis and button counts returned by the glfwGetJoystickAxes and glfwGetJoystickButtons functions.

Win32 MBCS support

The Win32 port of GLFW 3 will not compile in MBCS mode. However, because the use of the Unicode version of the Win32 API doesn't affect the process as a whole, but only those windows created using it, it's perfectly possible to call MBCS functions from other parts of the same application. Therefore, even if an application using GLFW has MBCS mode code, there's no need for GLFW itself to support it.

Support for versions of Windows older than XP

All explicit support for version of Windows older than XP has been removed. There is no code that actively prevents GLFW 3 from running on these earlier versions, but it uses Win32 functions that those versions lack.

Windows XP was released in 2001, and by now (January 2015) it has not only replaced almost all earlier versions of Windows, but is itself rapidly being replaced by Windows 7 and 8. The MSDN library doesn't even provide documentation for version older than Windows 2000, making it difficult to maintain compatibility with these versions even if it was deemed worth the effort.

The Win32 API has also not stood still, and GLFW 3 uses many functions only present on Windows XP or later. Even supporting an OS as new as XP (new from the perspective of GLFW 2, which still supports Windows 95) requires runtime checking for a number of functions that are present only on modern version of Windows.

Capture of system-wide hotkeys

The ability to disable and capture system-wide hotkeys like Alt+Tab has been removed. Modern applications, whether they're games, scientific visualisations or something else, are nowadays expected to be good desktop citizens and allow these hotkeys to function even when running in full screen mode.

Automatic termination

GLFW 3 does not register glfwTerminate with atexit at initialization, because exit calls registered functions from the calling thread and while it is permitted to call exit from any thread, glfwTerminate must only be called from the main thread.

To release all resources allocated by GLFW, you should call glfwTerminate yourself, from the main thread, before the program terminates. Note that this destroys all windows not already destroyed with glfwDestroyWindow, invalidating any window handles you may still have.

GLU header inclusion

GLFW 3 does not by default include the GLU header and GLU itself has been deprecated by Khronos. New projects should not use GLU, but if you need it for legacy code that has been moved to GLFW 3, you can request that the GLFW header includes it by defining GLFW_INCLUDE_GLU before the inclusion of the GLFW header.

Old syntax
#include <GL/glfw.h>
New syntax
#include <GLFW/glfw3.h>

Name change tables

Renamed functions

GLFW 2 GLFW 3 Notes
glfwOpenWindow glfwCreateWindow All channel bit depths are now hints
glfwCloseWindow glfwDestroyWindow
glfwOpenWindowHint glfwWindowHint Now accepts all GLFW_*_BITS tokens
glfwEnable glfwSetInputMode
glfwDisable glfwSetInputMode
glfwGetMousePos glfwGetCursorPos
glfwSetMousePos glfwSetCursorPos
glfwSetMousePosCallback glfwSetCursorPosCallback
glfwSetMouseWheelCallback glfwSetScrollCallback Accepts two-dimensional scroll offsets as doubles
glfwGetJoystickPos glfwGetJoystickAxes
glfwGetWindowParam glfwGetWindowAttrib
glfwGetDesktopMode glfwGetVideoMode Returns the current mode of a monitor
glfwGetJoystickParam glfwJoystickPresent The axis and button counts are provided by glfwGetJoystickAxes and glfwGetJoystickButtons

Renamed types

GLFW 2 GLFW 3 Notes
GLFWmousewheelfun GLFWscrollfun
GLFWmouseposfun GLFWcursorposfun

Renamed tokens

GLFW 2 GLFW 3 Notes
GLFW_ACTIVE GLFW_FOCUSED Renamed to match the window focus callback
GLFW_WINDOW_NO_RESIZE GLFW_RESIZABLE The default has been inverted